Tellqvist’s Season Ends Appropriately

By Randy Nicholson

Although the traditional media sources have recently begun to talk about Sweden’s Mikael Tellqvist with much greater regularity, Maple Leafs fans have been following this brilliant young netminder’s exploits all season long here at Hockey’s Future. We owe a great deal of credit to correspondent Jan Buben for supplying us with this information on a weekly basis. In order to ensure that no one out there is left hanging, here is the final chapter for Tellqvist’s remarkable season in the Swedish Elite League.

Down 2 games to 1 after three in the final series, Djurgarden found itself in a must-win situation. They responded accordingly in Game 4. Tellqvist made some key saves early on – especially during a stretch when his team was down two men. Djurgarden survived this shaky start and then began to show their best form. Niklas Falk, a key figure on Djurgarden´s power play unit, started things off by setting up the first goal and then scored the second one himself – both coming with the man advantage. Farjestad then managed to get one past Tellqvist, but Djurgarden continued to dominate as the first period came to a close.

In the second period, it was very quickly 3-1 and then, after another fine piece of stickhandling by Falk, 4-1 for Djurgarden. In the final period Farjestad attempted to rally, but Tellqvist would surrender only one more goal. Finally, Djurgarden scored its third power-play goal of the night to win this key game 5-2. Mikael stopped 25 of 27 shots and really gave his team a chance to succeed after a slow start.

In Game 5, Djurgarden took an early lead and then added a second goal within first three minutes of the match. A tendency to take silly penalties that had plagued Djurgarden all the season then returned at a very inopportune time. Falk and Berglund took penalties 10 seconds apart and, with the two man advantage, Farjestad got on the board. They then managed to tie the game only a few seconds later. After 5 minutes of play, there were already 4 goals scored and both teams would tally again before the end of the first period.

In the second, Djurgarden scored a fourth goal but their over-aggressiveness led to another penalty which produced Farjestad´s third power play goal of the night. The game remained tied through the remainder of regulation time.

Although it was Farjestad who looked much sharper in the overtime session, Djurgarden’s Mikael Johansson eventually produced the decisive goal and his club grabbed a 3-2 series lead. Tellqvist stopped 24 of 28 shots including all 7 directed at him during extra time.

Having won the previous 2 games, Djurgarden traveled to Farjestad hoping to wrap things up. Both teams began the match very cautiously, nevertheless there were still some great opportunities to score. Fortunately, Djurgarden finally discovered an ability to play with some self-discipline and they were the more dangerous team in the first frame, outshooting Farjestad 8-4.

Perhaps encouraged by the enthusiastic support of their fans, Farjestad was re-energized and played outstanding hockey in the second period. Tellqvist was forced to make a spectacular glove save on Jenni and then another excellent stick save on Berglund as the puck nearly crossed the goal-line. Unfortunately for Farjestad, it was Djurgarden that scored first in the middle of the period (very much against the flow of play). Attempting to protect this slim lead, Djurgarden allowed Farjestad to gain much more ice and to create havoc in front of Tellqvist. Though the star goalie was superb, he was beaten by Berglund with only 10 minutes to play in the third period. Both teams continued to compete frantically and the desire to win was clearly evident on the faces of Farjestad’s players. Tellqvist, however, would give them no more.

The first overtime period produced the best hockey played in this series. Both goalies were remarkable. As the game wore on, Djurgarden’s dominance began to grow steadily. By the end of the first OT period they were badly outplaying the home team. It was as if Farjestad had given its all for 70 minutes and now there was nothing left in the tank.

In the second OT period, Djurgarden continued to carry the play and it seemed to be just a matter of time before they would produce a game and series winning goal. At 91:26, on a rather lucky rebound, Daniel Tjarnqvist scored the winner for Djurgarden.

In the end, Djurgarden repeated the its SEL triumph of the previous year – an honor much deserved based upon the team’s strong play over the entire campaign. Mikael Tellqvist, who was the key element all season long, made 38 saves on 39 shots in the clinching game.

Mikael Tellqvist went on to represent Sweden at World Championship tournament in Germany and played strongly as the starter in the team’s bronze medal winning game. Toronto Captain Mats Sundin was said to be very impressed with his new (and future?) team mate’s skill. Mikael is now rated amongst the top 20 NHL prospects in the world and will undoubtedly next be seen at the September Training Camp of the Toronto Maple Leafs. If he continues to progress at his present rate, he will definitely have a chance to grab a spot on the big club’s roster very soon.

We’re gearing up for a busy off-season at Hockey’s Future. Next up we’ll have season recaps for both the Maple Leafs and their top prospects. Entry Draft coverage will commence next week Free Agency features and analysis will begin later this month and there will be many other surprises in store for you here throughout the summer. Please plan to visit us regularly.